Indie Developer Threatens To Kill Gabe Newell Over A Promotional Mistake, Steps Down From Studio After Valve Pulls His Game From Steam

By Matthew Buzzi , Updated Oct 21, 2014 01:16 PM EDT
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Developing video games can be a difficult path, especially for an indie studio, but angrily tweeting about Valve and threatening Gabe Newell while trying to sell your title on Steam is not the wisest way navigate the industry's obstacles.

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Mike Maulbeck of Code Avarice had his small studio's game Paranautical Activity pulled from Valve's digital distribution service yesterday following a series of rash tweets in which he threatened--however seriously--to kill Valve boss Gabe Newell over a mistake.

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The situation began when Paranautical Activity was featured as part of Steam's Halloween-themed games promotion. The game had just entered full release, according to Maulbeck, but the Steam banner used in the promotion claimed it was currently in early access. This could certainly influence sales negatively (many are still skeptical of early access titles), which understandably frustrated and upset Maulbeck, but his reaction initiated a downward slide. Check out the series of tweets below:

These tweets represent Maulbeck venting his frustration, but on their own were more than likely not enough to make Valve take action. However, a since-deleted tweet (screen-capped and preserved by Player Attack) stated "I am going to kill Gabe Newell. He is going to die", and served as the tipping point for Valve's decision.

I'm sure all of us have told friends and family we're going to "kill" them in jest, with no real intention of any malicious actions. But Maulbeck's declarative statement, said in a definitive manner out in a public space, is both unprofessional and rash. He was undoubtedly being hyperbolic (and has since stated as much), but was shortly contacted by Valve and told that his threats to an employee have resulted in Paranuatical Activity's removal from Steam. In addition, the service will no longer work with him or his studio--but Valve did offer to help deliver future updates to fans who already own the game.

It's worth noting that Maulbeck did first attempt to contact Valve through normal means requesting they fix the error, according to an interview with Eurogamer. Watching the game sit on Steam with the incorrect information, he says, eventually resulted in the frustration that boiled over on Twitter.

Maulbeck has shown regret for his actions, and wrote a blog post saying that he would leave his studio as the result of his behavior. His responses since have ranged from depressing, to defeated, to comical, and to still bitter, but he feels pretty strongly that the game will be unable to succeed without Steam's sales. Hopefully, he explains, his stepping down will lead to Valve reconsidering Code Avarice's ban from Steam--he doesn't want his coworkers further punished because of him. It's a reminder (as if we needed more in the face of GamerGate) that your digital words--even those said in jest--can have very real consequences. Paranautical Activity is still available through other avenues, such as the Humble Store, which will net you a working Steam key.

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